However, as parents, there are may ways and resources available in New York child custody disputes to parents who will seek them. The most important purpose of any method chosen by parents is to convey to their children that both parents care about their children's personal safety and about making their love known to the children.
In New York child custody matters, the Court determines custody based on what it believes to be the best interests of the children. This aspect can be the most complicated and controversial component of a divorce in New York. Sometimes children become a bartering tool and their well being gets lost in the game of tug-of-war.
Child custody matters in New York affect children under the age of 18. When the parents disagree about issues of child custody, the New York Court will often appoint a law guardian who will make an investigation and issue a recommendation regarding child custody and an appropriate visitation schedule.
Sole Custody in New York child custody disputes: If the parents are not awarded joint custody, one parent will have sole custody of the children. Sole custody means that a parent has the authority to make legal decisions for the children. The non-custodial parent is awarded specific visitation with the children.
Joint Custody in New York child custody disputes: In joint custody, both parents have legal custody with one parent designated as the primary residential parent. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right to make major decisions for their children. These decisions include residence of the child, medical and dental treatment, education, child care, religious education, extra-curricular activities, summer camp and recreation.
Shared Custody in New York child custody issues: In shared custody, both parents share legal custody with each parent having specific periods of responsibility with the children. This arrangement gives both parents the right to make major decisions on an equal basis for their children.
The New York Courts will
not award joint or shared custody unless the parents can demonstrate a
level of maturity, willingness and ability to set aside their personal
differences in order to decide what is in the best interest of their children.
FACTORS FOR NEW YORK COURTS DETERMINING CHILD CUSTODY AWARD
No one factor is determinative in making a child custody award. The New York courts must weigh and balance the "totality of the circumstances" in making any custody determination. In deciding what is in the child's best interests, the New York court is required to consider many factors, such as:
* The effect of a separation of siblings;
* The wishes of the child, if the child is old enough;
* The length of time the present custody arrangement has continued;
* Abduction or abandonment of the child or other defiance of legal process by one of the parents;
* The relative stability of the respective parents;
* The care and affection shown to the child by the parents;
* The atmosphere in the homes;
* The ability and availability of the parents;
* The morality of the parents;
* The prospective educational probabilities;
* The possible effect of a custodial change on the children;
* The financial standing of the parents; and
* The parents' past conduct.
Additional factors that New York courts consider include:
* The refusal of a parent to permit visitation and/or the willingness of a parent to encourage visitation;
* Unauthorized relocation of the parent and child to a distant domicile; and
* Making unfounded accusations of child abuse.
Where either parent alleges that the other parent has committed an act of domestic violence against the alleging parent or a family or household member of either parent, and the allegations are proven by a preponderance of the evidence, the court must consider the effect of such domestic violence upon the best interests of the child.
A parent's ability to personally devote time to the child and his/her needs is an important factor.
As a matter of policy, New York courts tend to refrain from intervening with respect to the child's religious upbringing. However, courts may consider religion as a factor where a child has developed actual ties to a specific religion, or where a parent's particular religious practices threaten the health and welfare of the child.
Ingrid Gherman, P.C.
225 Broadway, Suite 1405
New York, New York 10007